Nascent star Zac Efron, 18, best known for his role in the mega-popular High School Musical, has signed on to play teen heartthrob Link Larkin in the movie version of the musical Hairspray.

This has proven to be a big week for the coming musical version of John Waters' 1988 film about desegregation on a TV dance floor in early-1960s Baltimore. Elijah Kelley, a 19-year-old Georgia native, has been picked to play Seaweed.

Efron, who will play the pop star at the center of the movie's fictional Corny Collins Show, has become a favorite of the preteen set thanks to his role in High School Musical. Made as a TV movie for the Disney Channel, the film has become a pop phenomenon. Its soundtrack shipped more than 3.5 million copies, and the DVD sold 400,000 units its first day, making it the fastest-selling TV movie on DVD ever.

Kelley was seen most recently in Take the Lead as a troubled teen learning to dance under the tutelage of Pierre Dulaine (Antonio Banderas). He has also been seen on television, with guest-starring roles on Everybody Hates Chris, Numb3rs and The Shield.

The two teens join 17-year-old New Yorker Nicole Blonsky, who this month was named to play the pivotal role of Tracy Turnblad, as the young leads of Hairspray. Other cast members include John Travolta, who will play Tracy's mom, Edna Turnblad; Queen Latifah, who will play record-store owner Motormouth Maybelle; and Amanda Bynes, who will play Tracy's best friend (and Seaweed's girlfriend), Penny Pingleton.

The film will be directed by Adam Shankman (Bringing Down the House) and produced by the team of Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, whose previous credits include the movie musical Chicago.

Production on Hairspray, which is slated for a spring 2007 release, is scheduled to begin Sept. 5, according to Daily Variety. Principal shooting is set for Toronto, with some scenes to be shot in Baltimore.

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com